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Morning Song – Questions 67 & 68

I kinda feel like if these are questions 67 & 68 for your lover, then you’re probably missing the point.  (Shouldn’t they at least make the top 10?)

Nonetheless, a great song by Chicago, a band that for its first few albums practically created its own genre of rock-jazz.

Morning Song – Key To The Highway

Let’s stay in Chicago with Big Bill Broonzy’s version of “Key To The Highway”.  Broonzy was a key figure in the development of the Chicago electric blues scene in the post-war era; and you can hear that in this 1941 cut of “Key To The Highway”, even though the instruments are Broonzy’s acoustic guitar, Jazz Gillum’s harmonica and Washboard Sam’s (wait for it) washboard—about as “country” an arrangement as you could come up with.

Morning Song – Planes And Satellites

City kids have been looking up to the sky and dreaming of a better place since, well, as long as there have been cities.  (Think of The Drifters’ Goffin & King 1962 hit, “Up On The Roof“.)

Chicago-based soul-funk-jazz-rock band, Sonia Dada, captures the same aspirations in “Planes And Satellites”.  And you can’t not dance to it.  (I dare you.)

When I was a boy, I remember livin’ in the streets;
I didn’t have enough to eat; It was a misery, yeah.

But I could wake up and look up in the sky,
Hoping that God’s light would shine on me, yeah yeah

In the sky, in the sky, in the sky, in the sky, they got the planes and satellites;
Yeah, airplanes and satellites, whoa, whoa.

Morning Song – Fear

Christian rapper Lecrae with a meditation on Psalm 23, verse 4: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.

Morning Song – Chameleon

Sit back, stretch out, make whatever you’re doing today a little funkier and more enjoyable with Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon”.

Morning Song – In Your Eyes

As was often the case for Peter Gabriel in the 1980s, there’s so much going on in the the video for “In Your Eyes” that it can be a little off-putting.

Don’t let that happen, because there’s so much going on in the music that nearly three decades later, the song remains fresh.

The simple keyboard chord progression that opens and sustains “In Your Eyes”.  The fascinating-but-never-too-busy percussion that’s simultaneously rock steady and endlessly, searchingly, playing off and around the beat.  The sysnthesizer arpeggios that kick the song into a higher gear as it enters the bridge.  The shimmering, shifting backing vocals on the chorus.

Don’t stop there.

Gabriel’s terrific, evocative lyrics and the deep yearning within his voice as he sings them.  The unexpected arrival of Youssou N’Dour’s gorgeous high tenor, singing in his native Wolof, opening a window onto entire new worlds as the song slowly fades out.

If you’ve ever loved someone (or something) the way Gabriel’s narrator does—or the way John Cusack’s character, Lloyd Dobler, loves Ione Skye’s Diane Court in Say Anything—“In Your Eyes” is the kind of song that brings that love to mind and puts a smile on your face one more time.

Morning Song – Hit ‘Em Up Style

This little blog’s First Rule of Cover Songs* is sometimes misunderstood as only applying to “updating” old songs to make them sound more contemporary.  In fact, the First Rule of Cover Songs applies to all sorts of creative covers—even if the “new” thing you bring to the song is just a banjo and a fiddle.

Blu Cantrell’s 2001 debut single, “Hit ‘Em Up Style” is a hip, contemporary R&B revenge song.  The narrator’s man cheated on her; she found out and emptied his bank account.  It may not be right, but it’s real.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops heard something old in “Hit ‘Em Up Style”, something that resonated with the Piedmont string band tradition they learned from master fiddler Joe Thompson.  See if you don’t hear it too.

*You’ve got to bring something new to it.

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